February Newsletter 2022

Welcome to the Kings Hammer February Newsletter 2022! This edition features Tryouts Save the Date, Kings Hammer Announces Leadership and Expansion in Central Kentucky, Matt Shisler Announced as the Social Media and Content Director, New Kings Hammer Website, Speaker Series with Dr. Laura Finnegan, Volta Cups, Fan Wear, and more! If you have a player, coach, or team to be highlighted in future newsletters, please send photos and stories to

Welcome to the Kings Hammer February Newsletter 2022! This edition features Tryouts Save the Date, Kings Hammer Announces Leadership and Expansion in Central Kentucky, Matt Shisler Announced as the Social Media and Content Director, New Kings Hammer Website, Speaker Series with Dr. Laura Finnegan, Volta Cups, Fan Wear, and more! If you have a player, coach, or team to be highlighted in future newsletters, please send photos and stories to

2022/2023 Tryouts

Tryouts for the 2022/2023 Season can begin in May and will end by June 17th. Official dates will be announced closer to the start of tryouts. Families looking to book summer vacations can begin booking on Saturday, June 18th to avoid conflicts.

If the official tryout schedule is released and you run into conflicts please communicate with your Program Director so they are aware.

Kings Hammer Announces Leadership and Expansion in Central Kentucky

COVINGTON, KY (February 10th, 2022) Kings Hammer is excited to announce new leadership and expansion at Kings Hammer Bluegrass. This new leadership team will create a complete player pathway for players located in Versailles, Lexington, and surrounding counties in Central Kentucky. The team will consist of James Wray, Dan Ensley, Brandon Cummons, and Fonyam Atanga.

James Wray will continue to lead the Kings Hammer Bluegrass events: Volta Cup Lexington, Triple Crown Cup, and Battle in the Bluegrass. Kings Hammer is proud to be the only club in Central Kentucky that offers convenient event opportunities and James will look to expand and improve the event experience for all families attending Kings Hammer Bluegrass events. In addition to leading events, James will assume the position of Operations Director for Kings Hammer Bluegrass. In this new role, he will be responsible for club operations for all Kings Hammer Bluegrass programs with a focus on club growth and development, scheduling, and facility relationships. James will work to help engage and grow the sport within the local communities of Versailles and Lexington. He holds a USSF B License and has coached for over 15 years at various levels, including club, high school, and ODP.  James has coached in various leagues throughout the region, including the Kentucky Premier League, Great Lakes Conference, and The National League.  He recently took over as the Head Boys Coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, winning the 2021 KHSAA State Championship in his second season.

Dan Ensley will be leading the Academy Program for boys and girls which will focus on serving the highest-level U11-U19 teams in Versailles and Lexington. Dan will also serve on the Kings Hammer Technical Committee and will be responsible for sharing and helping implement the Kings Hammer Game Model and curriculum in Central Kentucky. Dan Ensley has 25 years of soccer experience and came to Kings Hammer Bluegrass from Charlottesville, Virginia, where he served as the Director of Coaching and Player Development with Soccer Organization Charlottesville Area (SOCA). Ensley is Premier Diploma certified by United Soccer Coaches while holding a USSF A License.

Brandon Cummons will be leading the Premier Program in Versailles, Kentucky that will serve U8-U19 players located in and around the Versailles community. Brandon has over 15 years of soccer experience and spent the past 10 years as a staff coach and Director of Coaching at Bluegrass SC (now Kings Hammer Bluegrass). Cummons currently holds a USSF C License and has experience coaching at the club and ODP state levels. He also has experience in the KHSAA High School ranks coaching at East Jessamine High School and is the current girls coach at Woodford County Yellow Jackets.

Fonyam Atanga will be leading the new Premier Program in Lexington, Kentucky that will serve U8-U19 players located in and around the Lexington community.  Fonyam has over 15 years of soccer experience coaching locally in the Lexington area across all levels of play from college, high school, ODP, and club (Lexington FC and Bluegrass SC). He is currently the high school coach for the Woodford County Yellow Jackets Boys soccer program. He has also served as a member of the KY Youth Soccer coaching education team and a current member of the WYSA Board of Directors. Fonyam holds a US Youth Soccer National Youth License in addition to his US Soccer Federation A License.

The Premier Programs in Versailles and Lexington will be designed to provide players with the opportunity to train and prepare for the journey to our Kings Hammer Bluegrass Academy Program within their local communities. The Premier Programs also provide the opportunity for players that have other interests outside of soccer. These programs are designed to be flexible, convenient, and affordable to players of all levels.

“We are extremely excited about the leadership team we have been able to create in the Bluegrass region. Not only do we have some of the strongest soccer leaders in the area driving the program forward, but we also have a tried-and-true player pathway that is consistent across the club and provides for all levels and ages of players,” said Paul Nicholson, Kings Hammer Technical Director.

Dave McIver, Kings Hammer Vice President of Operations, added, “We are thrilled to continue to grow the Kings Hammer Bluegrass brand through added programs and events in the Versailles and Lexington communities. We have always had the goal and ambition to provide convenient program opportunities for players of all levels in Central Kentucky and this new leadership team provides greater opportunity for growth and development of Kings Hammer Bluegrass players, coaches, and staff.”

Visit the Kings Hammer website now to view the complete player pathway offered to families and be sure to check back for more exciting news to come!

James Wray
Dan Ensley
Brandon Cummons
Fonyam Atanga

Kings Hammer Announces Matt Shisler as the Social Media and Content Director

COVINGTON, KY (February 1st, 2022) Kings Hammer is excited to announce Matt Shisler as the Social Media and Content Director. Matt joins Kings Hammer with a wealth of knowledge, creativity, and experience. He comes to the club from FC Cincinnati where he spent the last 6 years. Matt will be responsible for planning, creating, editing, and publishing content across the Kings Hammer social platforms.

Matt Shisler first moved to Cincinnati, in March of 2015, serving as Director of Media for the Dayton and Cincinnati Dutch Lions FC. Following one season, Matt was hired by FC Cincinnati for the club’s first season in USL as Team Manager. As Team Manager, Matt wore many hats, including being responsible for team equipment, serving as a team administrator during travel, and filming both training and matches. Following the conclusion of the 2017 season, Matt transitioned to the FCC marketing team, working alongside Kings Hammer’s CMO Kevin Butler. Matt first took on the responsibility of creating content for FC Cincinnati’s social media platforms and the club’s website.

Once FC Cincinnati joined Major League Soccer, Matt transitioned to a Digital Content Producer role for the 2019 season. For each of the past two years, Matt has served as Senior Content Producer. As Senior Content Producer, Matt helped lead and produce several projects including player announcements, schedule release teasers, sponsored content, and community relations updates. Additionally, Matt worked closely with FC Cincinnati’s Director of Digital Content, Alex Stec, building an ongoing 60-day social media calendar, writing copy, and scheduling posts across multiple platforms.

“I am thrilled to be joining Kings Hammer as Director of Social Media and Content. Kings Hammer is a club that has lots of ambition and I am looking forward to the opportunity to help the club continue to grow both locally and beyond. The family aspect I felt within the organization is something I am greatly looking forward to and cannot wait to get started,” stated Matt Shisler.

“We are excited to have Matt join our team at Kings Hammer. I have had the opportunity to get to know Matt over the last 6 years and have always been impressed with his work ethic and positive attitude. Matt is a great professional and person and will add great value to the organization. We are excited to have him start in this newly formed position, and we all look forward to the opportunity to work together,” said Kevin McCloskey, Kings Hammer COO.

New Kings Hammer Mobile-Friendly Website

We have redesigned our web experience with you in mind.

Our new website is now easier to navigate and mobile-friendly!

Read Newsletters. View Photo Gallery & Video Highlights. Shop Gear. Search Locations. See the Complete Player Pathway.

Click here to go to the homepage now!

Speaker Series with Dr. Laura Finnegan

Thank you to everyone that joined us live with Dr. Laura Finnegan on February 16th & 23rd! In case you missed them, both presentations are available on our website, as well as our Facebook and YouTube pages.

The presentation series discussed the impact of female growth and maturation on personal, psychosocial, emotional, and physical development and provided insights into how coaches and parents can apply that knowledge to enhance the developmental experience of the youth athlete.

Dr. Laura Finnegan founded the Football Research Group in 2020 which brings together a variety of international academics and practitioners engaged in football research. She completed a PhD on talent development in youth football in 2020. She is currently working on a number of football research projects, including a UEFA-funded investigation into club environments across 7 European countries. She has also presented on several coaching courses including the UEFA Pro License and the US Soccer Talent Scout License.

February Coaches Education: 8 Coaching Mistakes to Avoid

Most of us don’t have to be coaching more than one season to realize there are things we could or would like to do better.  If we reflect after a practice or game, at the end of a season, or at the end of the year, we all typically recognize mistakes that we have made.  Perhaps it was in our practice plan or execution, our emotions or coaching points during a match, the way we handled a situation with a player or parent (or both,) or maybe just our overall approach to the art of coaching.

A post recently came across on social from The Soccer Toolbox of an article by John O’Sullivan, founder of Changing the Game Project in which he addresses mistakes he made early in his coaching and how he tried to address them.

Click here to view the full article!

Volta Cups

Kings Hammer Events and Volta Futsal wrapped up our Futsal season hosting two events in January and February. In January, we hosted 51 teams in boys and girls U9-HS age groups at the Town and Country Athletic Center for our first Annual Volta Cup Cincinnati event. In February, we host 60 teams in boys and girls U9-HS age groups at our 2nd annual Volta Cup Lexington event at the Sports Center Lexington. Both weekends provided teams of all levels the opportunity to compete in a competitive Futsal event and continue with their technical development over the winter months. Thank you to all the teams, coaches, parents, referees, staff, and wonderful facilities for allowing us to host two great weekends of Futsal.

Next up in our event series we get back outdoors with our March Turf Events. We are excited for the start of the spring season and look forward to kicking off the Boys Turf Classic on March 11th-13th.

Kings Hammer Fanwear

Kings Hammer fanwear is available now on the Kings Hammer Online Shop!

Click here to check out the Kings Hammer Online Shop now!

February Showcases & Events


Cincinnati Zoo & Newport Aquarium Discount Tickets

Kings Hammer has teamed up with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and the Newport Aquarium to offer discount tickets to Kings Hammer families this holiday season!

Follow the steps below to access your discounts tickets today!

Kings Hammer is looking for Referees!

We are always looking to grow and improve our referee pool. We would love for YOU to become a referee! We are in need of more referees across the area for league games and also need some additional referees for our upcoming events.

Becoming a referee is even EASIER now with the majority of the instruction completed online. In Ohio, you are required to be in person for the on-field session in addition to the online pre-course work. Kentucky Youth Soccer is continuing to have the on-field session via ZOOM and hopes this flexibility will enable you to consider becoming a referee.

Being a referee is among the best part-time jobs anyone can have as you essentially set your hours and can easily make in excess of $20/hr. Please consider signing up today.

Details on how to sign up can be found here. In addition to the course fee of $65, there is a $30 background check for anyone over the age of 18. If you live in KY, you will follow the links to register in KY. If you live in OH, you can follow the links to register in OH.

For more information on local field interest for league games to ref click here!

Please direct any questions on this or any referee matter to Julie Hegerty at



Past Newsletters


Tryout FAQ’s

How do I register for tryouts?
ALL soccer-athletes MUST COMPLETE the tryout registration online before participating in the tryout process. Click here to register now!

*Please make sure that you register online at least 24 hours in advance to ensure that the soccer athlete is in the system and we have your information to notify you after the tryout process.  There is a Registration Steps document on the Tryouts page that will walk you through the process. Each soccer athlete should attend both tryout days if possible. If you are unable to attend both days please reach out to the Program Director listed below.

Birth Years for the 2022/2023 Season
For the 2022/2023 season, Kings Hammer will follow U.S Youth Soccer’s guidelines and will organize its teams by birth year:

*Interested players must register to try out for their birth year.

Can my child play up an age group?
Any player playing up will be at the discretion of their respective director. All players need to register and attend the tryout for their correct age group.

What should I wear/bring to tryouts?
Please come prepared with a fully inflated soccer ball, proper footwear, shin guards, and water. Each prospective soccer-athlete will receive one free Kings Hammer Soccer Club tryout t-shirt with a tryout identification number on the back of the t-shirt.  Each prospective player will be identified by the identification number throughout the process and MUST wear this t-shirt at each tryout session for the 2022/2023 soccer year.

We will not be able to attend tryouts or are new to the area and missed tryouts. Is there a process in place to allow for an alternate tryout?
Yes! If you are not able to attend tryouts or missed the tryout dates, please register and then contact the Director for the Program/Age Group you wish to tryout for so that arrangements can be made. We also hold supplemental tryouts throughout the year. Roster openings may be limited after the initial tryout period.

What are the differences between Academy and Premier?
Our Academy provides a highly competitive environment for higher-level soccer athletes. This program provides those athletes with the best local training offered by our qualified and professional staff. Our Academy teams play at the highest possible level providing showcase opportunities to College, Professional, and National level programs.

The Premier Program is a community-based program. The Premier Program provides the opportunity for players to play other sports or have other interests outside of soccer. This program is designed to be flexible, convenient, and affordable.

Can I try out for multiple programs?
We encourage anyone who wants to tryout for all levels to do so. Current KHSC players can ask their coach/director for guidance if they are unsure about which program to tryout for. You will need to register for each tryout separately.

If I tryout for a program and don’t make it, can I try out for another program?
Yes. If you don’t make an Academy team, we strongly encourage you to tryout for a Premier team, attending tryouts for at least one day.

If you don’t make a Premier team, the Classic Program may be an option. Contact Michelle Okumura ( if you’d like to pursue this option.

Will there be more than one team in each age group?
Yes, when possible, there will be more than one team per age group, per program. It all depends on the number of players at tryouts and their skill level.

If my child doesn’t make the top team, can they move up during the year?
Yes, there may be opportunities to move up throughout the year as long as the coach/director feels it is in the best interest of the player’s development. There may also be opportunities to guest play across all levels.

What can I expect after tryouts?
After tryouts you can expect communication from the club in the form of an email.  (Please double-check that your email is correct in the PlayMetrics system, this is the email we use) This will either be an acceptance email, offering your child a position on a team, or an email letting you know that they should tryout for a different program. Players who are offered positions on a team may also receive a phone call from their coach. All communication will come within 24-48 hours of the end of the last tryout. You will then have 24 hours to either accept or decline your email before your spot is offered to another child.

What are the next steps if my child makes a team?

  1. If you are new to the club, you will receive more information regarding your uniform ordering in your confirmation email.
  2. If you are part of the Academy or Premier Programs, you will receive the link to Demosphere to register your child in the state system in your confirmation email as well.

How long is the season?

  • Academy
    • U11-U14: August-November, January-May (possible post-season in June)
    • U15-U19: November-May
  • Premier
    • U7-U14: August-October, March-May
    • U15-U19: November-December, March-May

My child is in middle school but plays on a U15 team. Will there be a fall U15 program for trapped players?
Yes, we will offer a program for trapped 8th graders for the fall season depending on interest. The program will run from August to October and is open to players that are currently in the 8th grade that will be playing on a U15 team starting in November 2022. Questions please contact:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley  |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |

Can a team come to the club and join as a team?
Yes! The team can join the Classic Program. For more information please reach out to Michelle Okumura at

Who is in charge of hiring coaches?
If you are interested in a coaching opportunity, please fill out the following coaching form –

Program Directors:

Academy North: Ryan Handbury |
Academy South Girls: Chris Black |
Academy South Boys: James Thomas |
Academy Bluegrass Boys: Dan Ensley |
Academy Bluegrass Girls: Megan Adkins |
Premier Xenia: Brent Lewis |
Premier North: Wil Cagle |
Premier Sycamore: Ryan Handbury |
Premier Central: Michael Ratliff |
Premier South: David Shemilt |
Premier Versailles: Brandon Cummons |
Premier Lexington: Fonyam Atanga |